Muhammad (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Through Muhammad, the Koran was recited and propagated as the revealed word of Allah; through his teachings and leadership, Islam was established as a religious system and a way of life which has possessed extraordinary influence and persuasive powers in many parts of the world.
Muhammad ibn ʿAbdallah was the only child of his parents’ marriage. His father, ʿAbdallah ibn ʿAbd al-Muttalib, from the tribe of Quraysh, was a merchant who transported goods on camel caravans along routes into Syria and Palestine. The boy’s mother, Aminah bint Wahb, was from another clan of the same tribe. It is known that Muhammad was born, probably during the year 570, in the city of Mecca, which at that time was important as a commercial outpost as well as a religious center. At about that time, or shortly thereafter, his father died; the family’s means were so modest, according to one account, that apart from personal possessions they were left with little more than five camels and a few sheep. Muhammad’s mother died when he was about six years old; he was then reared in turn by a grandfather and an uncle.
Relatively little is known with certainty about his early years. It would seem that for quite some time he lived in relative poverty. It is probable, however, that his intelligence and tact gained some recognition for him among local traders. When he was about twenty-five, he married...
(The entire section is 3300 words.)
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